November, 2022. I was filled with a bit of trepidation the week prior to the start of Lucca Comics as I had heard so much from people I know, telling me how the city is completely inundated, how it’s a total nightmare, you can’t move, park, do anything and how so many of them were getting out of town to escape it at all costs. With over 275,000 tickets sold and another 250,000 people just coming to have a look I imagined utter chaos, and I wondered what on earth had possessed me to also have friends visit me from Rome for the first time that weekend. Had I gone mad?
Maybe it is because it is my first time, I don’t know, but I thought Lucca, which is already so magical to me, became even more so, with the Cosplayers and the excitement that filled the streets. Looking out of my bedroom window in the Borgo Giannotti as people headed into town the first night, I felt a tremor of excitement as I spied people in costumes hanging out at the local pizzeria, and as we made our way to Piazza Anfiteatro for an Aperitivo the buzz only grew as a very convincing Draco Malfoy sat behind me and a princess sat at the table in front, and then Jack Skellington walked by. As we continued on our way to Piazza San Michele to show my friends some of the sights of Lucca we popped into the church/gallery space at the top of Fillungo and saw an amazing comics illustration exhibition, we passed Spiderman, Superman a bunch of Steampunks looking resplendent in their Victorian era costumes and futuristic accessories. I thought to myself, this is absolutely fantastic, and at the same time I was instantly disappointed in myself for not having reprised my Star Trek Borg costume that took me weeks to make about 20 years earlier, and which I had been talking about doing all week but ran out of time.
Saturday the sun was beaming, and we made our way to the wall early afternoon and wham bam we were hit with a carnival atmosphere, explosions of colour, music and the most incredible costumes I have ever seen in my life. We were lucky enough to stumble upon the very start of the Marvel Comics parade, as I continued to snap photos like a paparazzo gone mad and then eventually got brave enough to ask to be in some of the photos. It was brilliant to see whole families together all dressed up, enjoying the fun and I also quickly realised I have a penchant for furry creatures…. mmm a bit worrying.
“Ma tu, chi sei?” This was the phrase of the day and an on-going joke at ourselves, as we approached Cosplayers to tell them how amazing they looked and rave about how spectacular their costumes were, but we actually had no idea who they were supposed to be, not that it mattered, as our admiration and compliments were absolutely 100% genuine.
Making our way off the wall in search of food, we were hit with a sea of people and realized quickly that all the restaurants and bars were full so as we passed by the Conad we were surprised to find it mostly empty and so were able to duck in, and get some sustenance that we could munch on and imbibe as we continued on our merry way. I giggled to myself as a very convincing Maleficent paid for her groceries in front of us.
As we got stuck on the corner near Piazza Napoleon, we danced on the street corner as a band walked by playing cartoon theme songs and then continued to meet another friend who had gone to get a crepe fix near Corso Garibaldi. It was crowded for sure, but people were so polite, friendly, smiling, laughing and considerate to others I felt like the best and most creative people in the world had all converged in Lucca. At one point I saw a lady struggling, slumped against a wall as a man dressed in a red paramedic or fireman uniform walked over to see how she was and help her, and I thought now there is a real superhero right there.
There is of course far more to Lucca Comics and Games than the Cosplayers and I look forward to exploring all of that more next year. To be honest I found the event website a little bit unclear as to what a ticket lets you actually do. I had tickets for the 31st and gave them to a friend’s son to use, but felt sad afterwards to learn that he spent almost two hours lining up somewhere only to be told he needed to go somewhere else for their wrist band and the line there was also massively long so they just gave up.
Nevertheless, my hat goes off to the organisers Crea Lucca and all the cleaning staff and personnel that kept everyone safe throughout the festival for a job really well done. Even though I clocked up over 17kms on foot one of the days and actually wore out one of my favourite pairs of boots, I would happily do it again. It was a magical weekend, filled with magical people bringing their creativity, sense of fun and money to Lucca so that all the businesses that have struggled the past few years could benefit, and that is something even more to smile about.
As I rode my bike along the wall today and watched everything being packed up I felt a teeny tinge of sadness that I would not be bumping into any Jedi Knights or other fantastic creatures, but those 5 days of my first ever Lucca Comics were superb and will live in my memory for a long time to come. I have already vowed to start working on my costume now for next year, so if anyone has any scrap electronic parts, shin and elbow pads, they’d like to throw my way, do let me know.